Dunne on Wine: Farmer Ron Mansfield’s at the root of El Dorado’s wine success
We wine writers devote entirely too much space to wines and the vintners who make them, not enough to grapes and the farmers who grow them.
Well, then, let’s catch up with Ron Mansfield, who farms 300 acres of wine grapes on and about Apple Hill in El Dorado County.
Most of the vineyards Mansfield tends are owned by people who under management agreements relinquish their long-term care to his stewardship.
A big guy with a homespun drawl and laconic manner, Mansfield brings the sensitivity and precision of a bonsai artist to vines. As a consequence, on the short list of people responsible for El Dorado County’s standing as a fine-wine region he’s at or near the top.
His relationship with property owners has been especially successful in his development and care of Fenaughty Vineyard, close by Mansfield’s own vineyard and orchards, Goldbud Farms.
Grapes from Fenaughty Vineyard are grabbed each harvest by more than a dozen winemakers near and far, many of whom recognize the growing stature of the plot by including its name on their labels. Wineries that receive steady recognition for wines from Fenaughty Vineyard include Edmunds St. John and Donkey & Goat in Berkeley, Keplinger in Napa Valley, Lavender Ridge and Hatcher in Calaveras County, and David Girard, Holly’s Hill, Windwalker and Skinner in El Dorado County.
When I last visited Mansfield in 1997 it was for a story on ...